An exhibition for child audiences Let’s Be Friends? will be on view in the 4th Floor Exhibition Halls of the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga (Jaņa Rozentāla laukums 1) from 15 September to 28 October 2018. The display invites visitors to explore animal representations in art and encourages children to think about values like friendship, trust, compassion, love, and responsibility.
The main goal of the project is to communicate with the youngest visitors of the museum about topics that are important and interesting to them during the time they develop a deeper understanding of the surrounding world. The chosen title Let’s Be Friends? goes along with the way children explore and learn – by asking questions.
The collection of the Latvian National Museum of Art (LNMA) holds several dozens of artistically expressive paintings, graphic works and sculptures depicting animals. These artworks of different pets and farm animals reveal various patterns of interaction between humans, humans and animals, animals and animals. Their presence in our homes has long become a natural phenomenon. Looking back into history, we see that initially animals served more as helpers in heavy housework, whereas now we often perceive them, especially pets, as embodiments of friendship, support and joy, or in some cases – fashion statements. The selected works specifically concentrate on the portrayal of friendship, trust, compassion and love between a human/child and the animal, keeping in mind the well-known truth – we become responsible for what we have tamed.
The exhibition offers works from late 19th century up until the 21st century, displaying recognized Latvian masters, such as Johann Heinrich Baumann, Ādams Alksnis and Teodors Zaļkalns, as well as artists concentrating on the portrayal of human-animal relationships – Janis Rozentāls, Jēkabs Bīne, Jānis Rikmanis, Kārlis Krauze, Kārlis Padegs, Daina Riņķe, Ērika Gulbe, Laima Eglīte, Gunta Liepiņa-Grīva, Ēriks Apaļais, and others.
Noteworthy, interests and perception patterns of children (age 3–8) are the main measurements of the exhibition design and arrangement – artworks are positioned according to the eye height of a child, explanatory texts and tasks are short and simple and there is dedicated space for creative and interactive tasks.
The Latvian National Museum of Art is increasingly expanding its work towards young families to even better accommodate their time at the museum. This project, created by the museum’s team of educators, adds to this line of work. The exhibition, together with its educational programme, is intended to serve as an intellectually and emotionally exciting adventure for children under 8 years of age.
Laura Dravniece, Curator of Education, Latvian National Museum of Art
Anna Pūtele, Curator of Education, Latvian National Museum of Art
Diāna Dimza-Dimme, Elīna Bērziņa, Annija Sauka, Latvian National Museum of Art
Kristīne Lāce, Anna Dzene, Natalie Suyunshalieva, Latvian National Museum of Art